Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stunning news

One can hardly contain one's excitement at the news that the parliament in the EU province of Sweden has decided to ratify the constitutional treaty. So epic is the news, in fact, that one had to go and lie down awhile before one could trust one's self to commit the joyous news to this blog.

By the way, global warming is racing away so fast that the leaves will still be on the trees at Christmas, with people sunbathing outside and the polar bears swimming marathons at the North Pole.

So enthusiastic was the Rikstag however, that it seems to have forgotten to tell the world how many of their MPs were in favour of giving yet more of their powers to the EU, but the local TT news agency made up for the deficiency by reporting that it was approved with 243 votes in favour, 39 against and 13 abstaining, while 54 members of parliament were absent.

Despite this very large majority, however, its passage was not a foregone conclusion until the very final vote. There were a couple of motions asking for a referendum, which only needed a third of the votes to win. Nevertheless, they lost.

As a final measure to stop the treaty being ratified, the Left party raised a technical motion to invoke the "minority clause". This is a parliamentary rule that delays a decision by one year, after which time it can be decided by a simple majority. It may only be used for laws that are deemed to have a far reaching effect and only requires a sixth of the votes to pass.

Although this vote was also lost – with 13 MPs abstaining - if ten had approved the motion it would have passed. It says something that one Conservative and one Christian Democrat who abstained had previously sponsored a motion for a referendum. It rather looks like they had been indulging in gesture politics for, when it came to a vote were they really had a chance to win, they backed off.

Out local correspondent notes that other abstainers were MPs from the Social Democrat party. These originally had decided to vote against the treaty but, in the end, none dared confront their party. "Invertebrates", has been suggested as a description, but others favour a somewhat shorter word.

In the end, only the Greens and the Left party voted against the treaty plus one other, a brave man called Sven Bergkvist from the Centre party. He at least was true to himself, belonging to an anti-EMU organisation.

Strangely, or perhaps not, the Swedish press hardly reported on the vote in the parliament either before, during or after the decision. The Swedish political blogs, however, took up the slack and were overwhelmingly negative. That guardian of democracy, the Svenska Dagbladet - a sort of blonde Torygraph - responded in the manner you would expect. It removed all the links to these blogs from its post on the treaty report.

Much of the MSM seems to be having difficulty working out how many countries have now ratified the treaty, including the BBC. It claims that Sweden has become the 24th, citing Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic as the three outstanding. It seems to have forgotten that the German president is awaiting the outcome of the deliberations of the German constitutional court, and has yet to sign the papers.

According to Polskie Radio president Lech Kaczynski has declared that Poland will not hinder the process of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by all EU states. "Poland won't be an obstacle in the Lisbon Treaty ratification process. I promised that to President Sarkozy and I will keep my promise," he grovelled said in an interview for Polish Public Television, collecting his cheque on the way out.

The Czech parliament, we are told, is awaiting a ruling of the country's high court, set for 25 November on whether the new treat (sic) is in line with the country's constitution. The more EU-friendly Czech Prime Mirek Topolanek said yesterday that Prague had two choices: ratify the text or become dependent on Moscow. "We criticise a number of EU policies, but it is better to be in it than to stand outside," he has stated.

Of Germany and Ireland, the latter apparently on its way to bankruptcy, in which case the Irish may have other things on their minds, and there is no word from the German constitutional court. It really would be so funny if Germany eventually proved to be the final obstacle but that is no more likely than leaves on the trees at Christmas.